Friday, March 13, 2009

Sync Thoughts and Observations

Three days ago I began using SMART Sync in my third grade multimedia classroom. Since that time, I've learned several things and became aware of even more opportunities.
The first afternoon of the completed install drove me to try a collaboration assignment. I love new techie things and don't mind experimenting with them. The student assignment that afternoon was to read a few pages in our Social Studies textbook and then answer six questions about the reading material. Specifically, they were to match a legendary American with his/her quote. I know this was quite a low-tech assignment, but on the spur of the minute, it fit with the goal - to try out SMART Sync. So, I quickly transferred their document into Word with instructions to cut and paste the correct name with the quote. Simple enough. First, the students completed the assignment at their computer and "handed it in" to me via Sync. Then part 2 was the same assignment but with 1 or 2 more in each group. We called it "Two Brains Are SMARTer Than One". I turned on the chat feature and students were able to collaborate with each other by typing messages to each other. You'd have thought I'd sprinkled candy on the keyboards! Such engagement! Such excitement! I set the timer for 15 minutes and said, "Have fun - get busy". They did and then "handed in" their paper. Groups were randomly chosen by my teacher computer this time. Next time, I'll pair up students more equitably. Some observations about this assignment: In two groups' excitement of chatting with each other, the recorder for each group forgot to cut and paste their answers on the document. I know they were really working because their chat showed they were discussing the answers with each other. They're hooked, too. They've already asked when they can chat again. The other observation is the smooth way their papers were handed in to me on my teacher computer. Navigating through My Documents to Submitted Files to the Collaboration folder to the day's assignment was smooth sailing. All of the group projects made it to the appropriate folder but one or two individual's documents didn't make the journey. I'll chalk this one up to student error. Next time I'll watch their clicking more closely.
For the next collaboration assignment, I'll choose something new. There is value in doing old things in new ways, but even more value is added when something new is done in a new way. Stay tuned for more.

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